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February 20, 2013

Enterprise CRM and DWH hand in hand- Supporting Analytics, CRM, BI to drive Business

CRM - Customer relationship Management (CRM) is integral part of every organization success story board and using right source of information at the right time, it can change the dynamics of the organization. CRM is used potentially by the business and its underlying data, infrastructure and application are being managed by IT. Most of the time, CRM Application is the most downstream application in the enterprise architecture; CRM gets data from various source system - Point of Sale (PoS) systems like retail, online, direct channel, various data enrichment stream like Big data e.g, Clickstream data, web log, social networking liking and comments, 3rd party file, customer review comments, common touch points like customer complaint, call back information, prospect capture. Some of the CRM application helps in capturing new prospect through direct channel and sometimes is used for updating existing customer contact details along with notes as well.

As stated, as it relies on various touch point data - it is prudent to have an enterprise datawarehouse to be the source of CRM application whenever possible due to various factors. Isolated source of information into CRM makes data abstraction from rest of the business and makes it less flexible and makes life difficult from support and maintenance point of view. Before sponsors embark into building their CRM system to perceive short term benefit using different source of data in isolation - it is very much prudent to have enterprise data warehouse to be built up initially to have conformed dimension and facts to represent individual business process at different grain.

An Enterprise data warehouse built up following Kimball methodology will have a virtual datawarehouse having separate logical datawarehouse under same physical database with conformed dimensions. The idea of having Enterprise datawarehouse is to extract, clean, conform and transform whenever possible to make more meaningful information and then load in physical star schema. Different data mart like Retail, Telecom, Stock, Insurance, single Customer View for any CPG or TELCO or Retail Organization can co-exist in the enterprise datawarehouse. For organizations having business presence in different countries, it is worth to have the country wide data available in the same datawarehouse to make it single version of truth for reporting and for CRM System. 

View image

CRM datamart can source data from all other underlying datawarehouses through

1) View

2) Materialised View or summary table

3) Physical Table.

Whether to use view or materialised view is based on designer prerogative and does rely on the requirement. If CRM Application queries are complex and resource intensive and chances many application process will run similar query quite often- prudent to build Materialised view on cross functional datawarehouse data with the advantage - metrics will be pre-aggregated or summarised with all the metric required but with the cons of taking lot of disk space. Whereas if queries are simple and metrics can be easily formulated on the fly- views are better choice to avoid disk space usage and using more processor for the same. The idea of having CRM data mart in the same enterprise datawarehouse to avoid storing redundant data elsewhere and increasing infrastructure cost, less scalable and less flexible to accommodate any future change and increasing data availability time with more failure points.

Regular sources like all sales and orders data and external structured files to provide consumer and product insight can be easily made available in EDW and CRM datawarehouse; even unstructured big data can also be integrated now-a-days with EDW with much ease. Only technology challenge lies with near real time data requirement for CRM application. If there is any, data virtualisation may come in rescue and with the advent of mapreduce framework and different near real time ETL technology, EDW can be made near real time for all the information which needs real time data for contact centre and agencies. Emails can be sent on the fly based on click stream data from search engine or as soon as QP code scan completes or based on social networking feed analysing web log. Having CRM datamart present in Enterprise datawarehouse helps in analytics to be built on pre-aggregated data and create its own metrics as required. This helps in achieving in-data analytics and embedded scoring routine as well. Response history of the CRM applications and also contact history along with various responses of media can be stored in CRM datawarehouse directly. The major advantage of reduction of failure point, easy data lineage and also easy fitment of BI reporting tool on CRM data to provide customer insight to the right stakeholder. The CRM datawarehouse thus can become source of data for advanced analytics (data mining), CRM Applications, marketing division and also for Group BI reporting for any retention, propensity score, various marketing reporting need.

February 14, 2013

Open UI - Will it be a game changer for Siebel? Part 2

By Alpesh Narendra Chauhan

Lead Consultant, Oracle Practice, Manufacturing Unit, Infosys

In Part 1 of this blog series, I have mentioned limitations of current Siebel client and latest developments in Open UI. In this part, I have listed down the key Open UI features, which makes it a better CRM solution.

Will it be a Game Changer?

With Open UI, Siebel is trying to deliver more intuitive UI. Key features or capabilities which make Open UI an interesting proposition are:
 Browser Independent: More efficient and intuitive user experience on any browser. No plugins are required.
 Device Independent:  It is supported across desktops, tablets and smart phones devices. It provides Rich Internet Application (RIA) look and ability to do quick navigation(less number of clicks).
 Partial refresh feature: It supports use over low‐bandwidth connections because of partial refresh feature and it can be run on modern wired or wireless networks.
 Migration with minimal effort: Siebel Open UI supports the existing repository file and allows the migration to Open UI without any change in the already developed content. It means Lower cost of development and lower total cost of ownership.
 No development will be required for existing customer to migrate to Siebel Open UI. It is Easy to deploy, integrate and update out of the box functionalities.
 Legacy modes (Standard and High interactivity mode) and Open UI mode can co-exist.
 Works on connected mode: It provides mobile solution for mobile sales force or field service representatives to access data in real time in connected mode.
 Disconnected Mode: Development of disconnected mode is in progress.  Open UI mobility is expected to support all functionalities in disconnected mode.
 Platform extensibility: It can be easily extended using standard based web technologies
 User Experience:  It provides better user experience by leveraging intuitive web controls.
 Real time data validation: It allows spell check, auto fill and data constraints capabilities. It reduces manual errors and ensures better data quality at the time of data entry itself.
 Device driven layout: Application user interface is adjusted automatically based on the mobile phone screen shape and size.
 Portal and Siebel enterprise integration: It is easy to embed Siebel in web portals or embed other portal pages in the Siebel views.

Open UI has various features which makes it a very compelling proposition for the customers. To move on to Siebel Open UI, Existing customers will have to upgrade to a release (8.1 or 8.2) which is compatible to Open UI and implement Siebel Innovation Pack 2012.

Only time will tell if Open UI is a game changer for Siebel, but it definitely seems to be a promising product innovation at this point of time. Open UI has already created lots of buzz in the CRM customers. I am expecting that many existing Siebel CRM customers will migrate to Siebel Open UI.